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Online shopping? For the tall and large of foot, it’s a mixed bag

By Denise Snodell, Columnist, October 08, 2019 12:00 AM,Updated October 08, 2019 12:00 AM

It was 1:30 a.m. when I awakened. I might have heard a sound, like the ice maker clanking in the fridge. Or maybe it was one of those mysterious cracks a house makes. Wood floors can be expressive when adjusting to humidity swings.

I mentally walked through different parts of the house with bump-in-the-night theories. My pillow-based thoughts stopped at the front door. Boom -I realized I’d forgotten to check for a pair of shoes from Amazon. Was it a package thief making a getaway noise? Nah, I concluded, it was likely an inconsiderate kitchen appliance.

Ironically, I tracked the heck out of the package for a few days, but once it was finally “out for delivery” I failed to check the porch before I went to bed. Here’s a replay of my thoughts that night, which addresses doormat anxiety, one of several downsides to online shopping:

If the package is out there, it can wait until morning.

No it can’t.

Yes it can.

No it can’t.

But if I go get the package now, I’ll make a racket and awaken my husband. Not worth it. Don’t do it.

Then again, it could rain horizontally and destroy my purchase. Also, if my Amazon box is out there, it must look like we’re out of town. Not a good thing.

Worst of all - I could lose that rare pair of size 10½ women’s shoes! This internet find was like an aptly named Sasquatch sighting.

I hopped out of bed, made a racket, and retrieved the package. Because they were shoes.

Online shopping has turned me into a monster. I still prefer brick and mortar hunting and gathering, but physical stores absolutely fail tall women who simply want sleeves that reach wrists and pants that cover ankle bones. Along with footwear that fits.

It’s not my fault all the retailers I can easily drive to have enormous petite sections but nothing for the other side of the bell curve. Even shoe department salespeople back away from me when I announce I’m just past the magical stock cutoff of 10 but some 10’s might fit. They’ll only pay attention to me if I’m the only one there. No reason to lose commissions from all the browsing 7’s.

So online shopping has sort of been my salvation, even though I wind up sending back half of what I order. If you’re still reading at this point, here is your reward: I recently learned you can return Amazon orders at many Kohl’s locations. When you do, they slap you with a 25% off store coupon to lure you further into the building. A clever reminder there’s still a 3-D shopping world (minus tall person stuff, but hey: robes and blenders). It’s a crazy feedback loop I’ve been swirling in the last few months and I want it to stop.

Research, order, get package, try on, thumbs down, return at Kohls, wander aimlessly, repeat.

To minimize returns, I’ve learned to rely on customer reviews. If one person says an item is chintzy, it usually is. If enough folks rave about a hoodie, it’s likely a good one. But this fact-finding takes a lot of time and blows any illusion of click-and-buy convenience.

A possible e-commerce upside is the entertainment unwittingly provided by overseas merchants who are painfully unaware of Google Translate. I recently bought (and returned) a loose, unstructured jacket that was described as having a “stylish eccentric collar” that you can wear to “participate in party clubs.” The sales pitch rapidly deteriorated from there, tact-wise: “It can completely cover the obese body and perfectly modify the figure.” What?

I’m not completely sold on this intergalactic shopping alternative, but I’m happy to report the shoes I “picked up” on the front porch at 1:30 a.m. fit like a dream.

Reach Denise Snodell at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or on Twitter @DeniseSnodell

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